By Bruce Sayler
The damage figures didn’t add up to winning softball or happy moods. Nineteen walks allowed and 13 errors committed were red-lined on the Butte High side of the ledger following Billings Senior’s 11-2, 13-10 sweep of the Bulldogs.
The Eastern AA Conference doubleheader was played Saturday on a not very softball kind of day at Stodden Park. The weather was chilly, the wind cold and the rain forever threatening. It was sweatshirt-to-parka weather with the conditions uncomfortable.
Solace was a hard find on the Butte High side.
“The bottom line is we’re beating ourselves,” a sad Ryan Stosich, head coach of the Bulldogs, said as he sat quietly in the equipment shed after the twin bill. “It was a disappointing day. We need kids to step up and get those timely hits and that’s not happening, right now.
“We have to make the routine plays and quit beating ourselves. We’re hitting good. We hit the ball well, today. But, we have to throw strikes and we can’t have those errors — we have to make the routine plays.”
The Bulldogs struggled some at the plate in the first game, but out-hit the Broncs 13-11 in the second one.
“Those young pitchers, it’s tough pitching back-to-back doubleheaders,” Stosich said, referring to Butte High sophomores McCaul McCarthy and Madison Skeel working twin bills both Friday and Saturday. “The Billings Senior coach even said that to me. Billings Senior didn’t have to play a doubleheader (Friday). That’s a lot of pitches and they didn’t get a chance to rest their arms.
“I thought McCaul had good velocity today, but she has to hit more spots and throw more strikes. We have to get better pitching and defense.
“Madison Skeel came in and only gave up four runs. She wasn’t very overpowering, but she threw strikes. Then, Brittney Tierney catching did a great job. It’s not easy catching both games of a doubleheader. You have to consider maybe how many runs she probably saved back there today on wild pitches and great catches she made.
The Bulldogs have only one player, senior shortstop Taylor Huff, starting at the same position as last season. Tierney moved back to catcher after two seasons at third base, and junior Trisha Ericson changed to right field from left. All the other spots are held down by first-year starters.
Huff slugged a home run, her third of the season, in the second game while driving in four runs to lead the offense.
The losses put Butte High at 0-7 in conference games and 1-11 for the season. The Bulldogs are scheduled to play at Bozeman on Tuesday. Billings Senior is 7-5 on the season, 3-4 in conference and is to play next on Tuesday versus Billings Skyview.
Billings Senior 11, Butte High 2
The Broncs jumped on Butte High for four runs in the top of the first inning and were never caught. Dacee Zent drove in the first run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, Kara Conway did likewise and Jaida Ontiveros stroked a two-run single.
Butte High halved the deficit with a pair of runs in the third. Kodie Hoagland slapped a one-out infield hit and MacKenzie Tutty followed with a bunt single. Tierney walked to fill the bags. Hoagland raced home on a wild pitch before Huff drew a walk to re-pack the sacks. Bradie Lester grounded out with Tutty tallying on the play.
Billings Senior responded with a two-run fourth. Butte-rooted Cassidy Venner lofted the Broncs’ third sacrifice fly of the game and Venner’s sister, Kennedy, knocked in the other with a bases-loaded infield hit. Three walks and a hit batter set the table for the Bronc runs.
They tacked on their fourth sacrifice fly as Zent lifted her second, a bases-loaded floater to left, in the top of the fifth inning. The Billings Senior lead was 7-2.
The last four runs were scored in the top of the seventh as the Bulldogs committed three errors. Ontiveros’ double was the only big hit of the frame.
Kennedy Venner, a freshman, was the winning pitcher, tossing a three-hitter with five strikeouts against six walks.
Billings Senior 400 210 4 — 11 9 1
Butte High 002 000 0 — 2 3 7
Kennedy Venner and Lauren Gordon. McCaul McCarthy and Brittney Tierney. W — K. Venner (2-3). L — McCarthy (1-7).
BILLINGS SENIOR (6-5, 2-4) —Laurel Kilgore 1-4, Lauren Gordon 1-3, Jensen Keller 1-2, Dacee Zent 1-3, Cassidy Venner 2-4, Kara Conway 0-3, Jaida Ontiveros 2-4, Kennedy Venner 1-5, Allison Nyquist 0-2.
BUTTE HIGH (1-10, 0-6) — Kodie Hoagland 1-2, MacKenzie Tutty 1-3, Brittney Tierney 0-3, Taylor Huff 0-2, Bradie Lester 0-3, Trisha Ericson 0-3, McCaul McCarthy 0-1, Cameron LaFond 0-0, Madison Skeel 0-1, Jaden Cleveland 1-2, MaKenna Carpenter 0-1, Aubree Corcoran 0-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Kilgore, Ontiveros.
Runs batted in — Billings Senior 9 (C. Venner 3, Ontiveros 2, Zent 2, Conway 1, K. Venner 1), Butte High 1 (Lester).
Billings Senior 13, Butte High 10
The Bulldogs batted first in the second game and exploded out to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Huff walloped her home run to left field after singles by Hoagland and Tutty. The one-out shot was followed by Bradie Lester being hit by a pitch. One out later, McCarthy worked a walk and Carpenter subbed in as her courtesy runner. Jaden Cleveland was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded. Doubles by Aubree Corcoran and Hoagland plated two runs apiece and Butte High had its big lead.
However, Billings Senior slowly worked its way back. Gordon’s groundout scored Kilgore, who had singled, stolen second base and gone to third on an error, for a run in the first. The Bulldogs got it back in the second as Tierney singled to left, went to second on a wild pitch, third on a base hit by Lester and home on a single to center by Trisha Ericson.
Billings Senior, though, collected three runs in the bottom of the second. Kennedy Venner reached on an error, Allison Nyquist singled and Kilgore walked to fill the bags. Two runs were then walked in and the other was scored on a wild pitch.
Butte High’s lead was 8-4 until the Broncs erupted for seven runs in the third inning. Two walks and an infield hit packed the sacks with one out. Jensen Keller rapped a two-run single to left-center. Another walk reloaded the bases and an error let another run in while keeping the bags filled. A wild pitch tied the score and then another walk repacked the sacks. Ontiveros poked a two-run single to right field and a missed flyball in the outfield let the seventh run of the inning score as the Broncs took an 11-8 command through three innings.
Butte High pulled to within a run with two runs in the fifth frame. Hoagland reached on a one-out error and dashed to second base on a wild pitch. Tutty walked and Tierney drilled a double down the left-field line to bring Hoagland home. Huff sent a fly to left that was caught by Cassidy Venner only inches away from being a three-run homer. Instead, it still tallied Tutty as a sacrifice fly.
The Broncs opened up more breathing room with a two-run homer by Gordon in the sixth. Nyquist was aboard via a leadoff single. The shot gave Billings Senior its 13-10 spread.
Ontiveros, who relieved Kennedy Venner in the second inning, blanked the Bulldogs in the seventh, but not without having to face five batters. Tutty blooped a single behind shortstop to start the frame and Tierney was issued a base on balls. Huff bounced into a fielder’s choice that forced Tutty out at third base. Lester knocked a comebacker Ontiveros handled and threw to Conway at third for another forceout. Ericson’s flyball was caught by second baseman Keller and the game was over.
Butte High 710 020 0 — 10 13 6
Billings Senior 137 002 x — 13 11 1
McCaul McCarthy, Madison Skeel (3) and Brittney Tierney. Kennedy Venner, Jaida Ontiveros (2) and Lauren Gordon. W — Ontiveros. L — McCarthy (1-8).
BUTTE HIGH (1-11, 0-7) — Kodie Hoagland 2-5, MacKenzie Tutty 2-4, Brittney Tierney 2-3, Taylor Huff 2-4, Bradie Lester 2-3, Trisha Ericson 1-5, McCaul McCarthy 0-1, MaKenna Carpenter 0-0, Madison Skeel 0-1, Cameron LaFond 0-1, Jaden Cleveland 1-3, Aubree Corcoran 1-3.
BILLINGS SENIOR (7-5, 3-4) —Laurel Kilgore 2-4, Lauren Gordon 1-3, Jensen Keller 2-4, Dacee Zent 1-3, Aubree Soft 0-0, Cassidy Venner 2-4, Kara Conway 0-2, Jaida Ontiveros 1-4, Kennedy Venner 0-3, Allison Nyquist 2-4.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Corcoran, Hoagland, Tierney.
HR —Huff (3), Gordon.
Runs batted in — Butte 10 (Huff 4, Hoagland 2, Corcoran 2, Tierney 1, Ericson 1), Senior 9 (Gordon 4, Keller 2, Ontiveros 2, Zent 1).